Of course no two colonies, or social groups within each colony, translated their commitment to liberty into laws and institutions exactly the same way. But by 1776 all American patriots called the cause of liberty “sacred” and endowed their glorious cause with the attributes of a religion, including a creation myth, a theology, a moral code, a martyrology, and a teleology promising a limitless “empire of liberty” (in Jefferson’s words) if America snapped the chains of Old World corruption and made themselves worthy through abstinence, courage, faith, and community. In other words, while many colonial patriots interpreted their struggle in Protestant terms and others in secular terms, all patriots made America itself a sort of religion – and that made resistance to Britain and Tories at home into a holy war.
Category Archives: Belief
One of the things that drives people into liberalism is when their evangelical professors in college or emissary refuse to discuss the tough questions that non-Christians are raising. This creates a sense that evangelical scholars don’t have the answers. But we should never be afraid to explore, to ask tough questions, to pursue trusty at all cost.
God reveals himself in personal relationship and only in personal relationship. God is not a phenomenon to be considered. God is not a force to be used. God is not a proposition to be argued. There is nothing in or of God is that is impersonal, nothing abstract, nothing imposed. And God treats us with an equivalent personal dignity. He isn’t out to impress us. He’s here to eat bread with us and receive us into his love just as we are, just where we are.
Just something to think about….
Those who have a heart for morality, believe God’s heart centers on morality.
Those who have a heart for orphans, believer that God’s heart centers on orphans.
Those who have a heart for America, believe that God’s heart centers on America.
Those who have a heart for prayer, believer that God’s heart centers on prayer.
Those who have a heart for the church, believe that God’s heart centers on the church.
Those who have a heart for missions, believe that God’s heart centers is for missions.
Those who have a heart for individuals, believe that God’s heart centers on the individual.
Those who have a heart for families, believe that God’s heart centers on families.
Those who have a heart for the Bible, believe that God’s heart centers on the Bible.
And on it goes…
“The primary purpose of the church is to give a ravishing vision of who Jesus Christ is.”
Why do we dare to “take it all in” when our hearts are ready to epode with grief? Why do we sing when we mourn? Why do we adorn graves with flowers? Because we know that death can only be recognized by the living, sorrow can only be shared by those who grieve, and there is no shame in dying. Death may look like failure to those who worship life. The grave may appear as a dark reminder for those who seek repose in the busyness of daily demands. But, for those of us who have died with Christ Jesus, if his death teaches us anything it’s this: what looks like failure is really victory; what appears to be loss is actually gain; what seems to be shameful is the place where honor is found; and what sounds like the mourning is true worship. Believers call it a “sacrifice of praise,” for only those who are crucified with Christ can thank God for each, a fragrant aroma.
I realize, of course, by the nature of their questions that they have been listening. It’s because they understand very clearly that Paul’s world is different from our world, that Paul faced different challenges than we do today, that Paul’s assumptions do not translate directly into out context, they must ask “So what?” They want to take Paul’s advice seriously. It’s not enough for them to understand the historical meaning of Paul’s letters. They want to know-they must know!-if Paul’s gospel still matters today, especially since the apostle dealt with some of the same issues we face: gender battles, social contests, racial prejudice, marital struggles, sexual vices. Indeed, Paul didn’t hide behind vague theological ideas when he wrote his letters to the churches of the first century. He deals with the messy details of daily life for Christ believers. Do we eat this or that? Should I have sex with her or not? Do we have to believe everything you do? Should I get married? Should we help the poor who refuse to work? Because Paul’s instructions are so specific on his experiences and ideas about what the gospel should look like in his time, we can’t help but wonder: is Paul’s timely advice timeless?
Trying to answer the “So what?” question has brought Paul’s gospel into better focus for us-not just his theological ideas, but his personal experience of the gospel of Jesus Christ, his spirituality. Typically, Paul’s letters have been used as resources for his theology. We’ve grown accustomed to studying Paul for his theological insights, siphoning from his letters what he believed, distilling the contents for “hard doctrine.” Yet, for Paul, the gospel was not merely what he taught, but how he lived. He wanted his converts not only to believe what he had “received”; he expected them to follow “his ways” in Christ (1 Cor 4:17).
If nothing else, school teaches that is an answer to every question; only in the real world do young people discover that many aspects of life are uncertain, mysterious, and even unknowable. If you have a chance to play in nature, if you are sprayed by a beetle, if the color of a butterfly wing comes off on your fingers, if you watch a caterpillar spin its cocoon—you come away with a sense of mystery and uncertainty. The more you watch, the more mysterious the natural world becomes, and the more you realize how little you know. Along with its beauty, you may also come to experience its fecundity, its wastefulness, aggressiveness, ruthlessness, parasitism, and its violence. These qualities are not well-conveyed in textbooks.
Yesterday, during the worship service as we celebrated Jesus’ birth and looked forward toward his arrival, the absurdity of it all hit me. It is absurd that Jesus came as a baby. Babies can’t do anything. They are completely dependent on others. They are helpless. They get sick. They need to be fed and changed. They are needy. They are powerless over their world.
As I pondered how absurd Jesus’ arrival was, I began to think through Bible stories I know and how absurd they are. God created people knowing they would rebel. He called a nation to follow Him and all they did was make a mockery of His name. He used a harlot to deliver the spies of Israel. He used a bitter prophet to call a godless nation into repentance. Even Jesus using twelve people to change the world and then the most competent one betraying Him. And it goes on and on. It is just absurd.
But then it hit me. It is absurd that God would show me complete acceptance based on Christ and not my own effort. It is absurd to love your enemies. It is absurd to forgive those who wrong you. It is absurd to trust God rather than our own efforts. It is absurd to live by faith.
Those who have placed their faith in Christ are called to live an absurd life. It is absurd to a lost and dying world. It is absurd to logic and strategic thinking. Many things in relationships are absurd. A person who has first experienced the emotion of love does absurd things…and it is wonderful!
The challenge is to live the absurdity of this wonder out on a daily basis.